Chapter 17: - Page 4 of 4

Basilio

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Listen, mother, to what I’ve been thinking about.  Today there arrived from Spain the son of the dead Don Rafael, and he will be a good man like his father.  Well now, mother, tomorrow you will get Crispin, collect my wages, and say that I will not be a sacristan any longer.  As soon as I get well I’ll go to see Don Crisostomo and ask him to hire me as a herdsman of his cattle and carabaos—I’m now big enough.  Crispin can study with old Tasio, who does not whip and who is a good man, even if the curate does not believe so.  What have we to fear now from the padre? Can he make us any poorer than we are? You may believe it, mother, the old man is good.  I’ve seen him often in the church when no one else was about, kneeling and praying, believe it.  So, mother, I’ll stop being a sacristan.  I earn but little and that little is taken away from me in fines.  Every one complains of the same thing. I’ll be a herdsman and by performing my tasks carefully I’ll make my employer like me.  Perhaps he’ll let us milk a cow so that we can drink milk—Crispin likes milk so much.  Who can tell! Maybe they’ll give us a little calf if they see that I behave well and we’ll take care of it and fatten it like our hen.  I’ll pick fruits in the woods and sell them in the town along with the vegetables from our garden, so we’ll have money.  I’ll set snares and traps to catch birds and wild cats,[2] I’ll fish in the river, and when I’m bigger, I’ll hunt.  I’ll be able also to cut firewood to sell or to present to the owner of the cows, and so he’ll be satisfied with us.  When I’m able to plow, I’ll ask him to let me have a piece of land to plant in sugar-cane or corn and you won’t have to sew until midnight.  We’ll have new clothes for every fiesta, we’ll eat meat and big fish, we’ll live free, seeing each other every day and eating together.  Old Tasio says that Crispin has a good head and so we’ll send him to Manila to study.  I’ll support him by working hard. Isn’t that fine, mother? Perhaps he’ll be a doctor, what do you say?

What can I say but yes? said Sisa as she embraced her son.  She noted, however, that in their future the boy took no account of his father, and shed silent tears.

Basilio went on talking of his plans with the confidence of the years that see only what they wish for.  To everything Sisa said yes—everything appeared good.

Sleep again began to weigh down upon the tired eyelids of the boy, and this time Ole-Luk-Oie, of whom Andersen tells us, spread over him his beautiful umbrella with its pleasing pictures.  Now he saw himself with his little brother as they picked guavas, alpay, and other fruits in the woods; they clambered from branch to branch, light as butterflies; they penetrated into the caves and saw the shining rocks; they bathed in the springs where the sand was gold-dust and the stones like the jewels in the Virgin’s crown.  The little fishes sang and laughed, the plants bent their branches toward them laden with golden fruit.  Then he saw a bell hanging in a tree with a long rope for ringing it; to the rope was tied a cow with a bird’s nest between her horns and Crispin was inside the bell.

Thus he went on dreaming, while his mother, who was not of his age and who had not run for an hour, slept not.

[2]The Philippine civet-cat, quite rare, and the only wild carnivore in the Philippine Islands.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

panís ang laway